Cover image for Cosmetic surgery : the cutting edge of commercial medicine in America
Cosmetic surgery : the cutting edge of commercial medicine in America
Sullivan, Deborah A., 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, NJ : Rutgers University Press , [2001]

Physical Description:
xiii, 233 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RD119 .S85 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Cosmetic surgery is big business. With demand rising, this commercial medical practice has become a modern body custom. To explain the emergence and growth of this demand, Deborah A. Sullivan looks beyond the cultural imperatives of appearance and examines the market dynamics inherent in the business and politics of cosmetic surgery. In so doing, she also considers the effect of commercialization on the medical profession.

After reviewing prevailing beauty ideals, Sullivan looks at the social, psychological, and economic rewards and penalties resulting from the way we look. Following a historical overview of the technological advances that made cosmetic surgery possible, she explores the relationship between improved surgical techniques and the resulting increased demand; she also examines the ensuing conflict within the profession over recognition of commercial cosmetic surgery as a specialty. Among the topics covered are sensitive areas such as physician advertising, unregulated practice, and ambulatory surgery, and the consequences of commercialism on medical judgment. Finally, she reveals how physicians and their professional organizations have shaped the ways in which cosmetic surgery is presented in advertisements and women's magazines that would promote patient demand.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Thoroughly researched and written in a clear and forceful style, this is a necessary book with a powerful message: we are witnessing the end of medicine in the US as a professional calling. It is necessary because everyone likely to have surgery or other advanced medical treatments should know fully what they are doing. The work is well organized: Sullivan (sociology, Arizona State Univ.) starts with cultural backgrounds and social, psychological, and economic consequences of conditioned attitudes and reinforced innate responses of humans to a contrast between ugly and attractive. The change in medicine into a commercial enterprise has been led by several American organizations of plastic surgeons, which have made their practice a highly lucrative business. When things go wrong, as they often do, the costs to repair the situation, if possible, are usually more than the original tariff. Reinforcement of the beauty message is inherent in the mass media and advertising, but when such activity contributes to medical irresponsibility, as this book shows, it condemns many to victim status, enriching a few others. All levels. D. R. Shanklin University of Chicago